Mobile Continues to Steal Share of US Adults' Daily Time Spent with Media
Mobile usage to grow 23.0% this year as time spent online and with traditional media declines
In 2013, time spent with digital media among US adults surpassed time spent with TV for the first time—with mobile driving the shift. This year, that trend will continue, according to new figures from eMarketer, as time spent with mobile devices continues to grow much faster than usage of all other media.
US adults still spend considerably more time with TV than with any other single medium, and in 2014, they’ll be in front their televisions for an average of 4 hours 28 minutes per day, eMarketer estimates. That’s down from 2013, but by a mere 3 minutes.
Combining online and mobile devices, however, eMarketer expects US adults to spend 5 hours 46 minutes with digital media daily this year, increasing digital’s lead over television to well over 1 hour per day. Digital media, in our definition, includes all online, mobile and other nonmobile connected-device activities, such as video streamed through over-the-top services.
That increase is almost exclusively attributable to mobile. In 2014, US adults will spend 23.0% more time with mobile on an average day than in 2013, according to eMarketer’s forecast—and that’s led to mobile cannibalizing time spent with just about every other category. Even desktop time will drop this year, both in absolute terms and as a share of time spent with all media. Last year, mobile time (excluding voice calls) lined up evenly with time spent online on desktops and laptops, at 2 hours 19 minutes each. This year, mobile will pull far ahead, to 2 hours 51 minutes, vs. 2 hours 12 minutes spent online on PCs. Overall, TV will account for 36.5% of total time spent with media in 2014, compared with mobile at 23.3%, which is now firmly in second place.
To develop our time spent with media figures, eMarketer analyzed more than 500 data points collected from over 40 research institutions. With respect to TV in particular, we compared more than 140 data points from approximately 30 sources, each of which employed various research methodologies ranging from online surveys and in-person interviews to phone surveys and meter tracking. As another example, to forecast time spent on desktop and laptop computers, eMarketer compiled and evaluated figures from audience measurement companies, industry associations, academic institutions, major online media platforms and other research firms—all of which we analyzed to account for discrepancies and convergence in definitions, methodology and historical accuracy.
eMarketer’s estimates of time spent with media include all time spent within each medium, regardless of multitasking. Consumers who spend 1 hour watching TV while multitasking on tablet devices, for example, would be counted as spending 1 hour with TV and an additional hour on mobile. Such multitasking helps to contribute to the significant amount of time people spend with media each day. Despite that, time spent with media is a finite activity, and increases are slowing. According to our estimates, overall time spent with media increased 4.6% in 2012 to 11 hours 49 minutes; in 2013, 2.0% to 12 hours 3 minutes; and this year, 1.5% to 12 hours 14 minutes.
Continued smartphone and tablet adoption has boosted time spent with activities across mobile devices, including video content and social networking. For example, mobile still accounts for a relatively small share of overall TV/video content viewing time, with an average of 33 minutes per day in 2014 out of a total 5 hours 23 minutes across all devices, including TV, mobile and PCs. (This figure excludes digital video streamed directly to smart or connected TVs, which is not broken out from the “other digital” category.) Time spent with mobile video is tiny compared with TV’s figure, but the growth is all with mobile, which will rise 50.0% in 2014 as both online and TV viewing remain essentially flat.
Meanwhile, social network usage among US adults has made the switch to majority-mobile this year. More than half of mobile social networking will be conducted on smartphones, and tablets will account for an additional 15 minutes per day on average. Last year, US adults spent 33 minutes on social networks online vs. 29 minutes on mobile devices.
eMarketer bases all of our forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.
In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all our forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.